In today’s competitive environment it’s not good enough just to offer an acceptable service – the customer experience must be exceptional – something they will shout about and share. As 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success (Harvard Business Review, January 2017) we thought we’d share our 4 top tips on how to provide an exceptional customer experience.
- Offering flexibility
- Offering flexibility
1. Save it or Seize it.
“In a hyper-competitive Experience Economy where consumers are digitally empowered, yet feel forever time-starved, there’s a fundamental choice to make with your Customer Experience strategy. At any moment, you must decide if your brand’s offering is a stepping stone on the way to experiences or if you are providing the experience itself. At every interaction or encounter you must ask: is your brand saving the customer’s attention or seizing it?” explains Maxwell Luthy, Director of Trends & Insights at trendwatching.com
“The answer to that question may change over the course of the customer journey, yet the challenge remains constant. Fail to save or seize attention and you’ll end up wasting it. And wasted attention is unforgivable.”
Your customers time has never been more precious so make sure you are thinking about your client’s journey and saving their attention by eradicating pain points, even if they are not strictly your ‘responsibility’. Look to shorten the customer journey, incrementally improving it at each step. Think about the tech and tools that could help you achieve this.
Airbnb do this well by aiming to support customers even before they become a Host or a Guest by helping them arrange travel plans so customers can feel that Airbnb is there every step of their journey.
Saving moments are frequently invisible, but your client WILL notice if they’re NOT there.
Attention seizing moments are getting harder to produce as customers now believe only the best deserve their attention. Think about the quirky little things your brand can do to show off its personality and create stand out moments. Stay true to your brand rather than following the crowd to ensure you are truly unique and experiment at every customer touchpoint to redefine expectations.
2. See it from the customers viewpoint.
Let’s take the taxi industry as an example. Since the public hackney coach service was launched in London in the 17th Century — all the way through to today — the customer journey has pretty much gone unchanged until recent years.
You know the drill… Customer hails a taxi – car picks up the customer – customer pays cash for the journey based on the meter – the end, with little or no feedback method for the customer.
Enter the smartphone. And start-ups like Uber and others. Leveraging mobile technology, they have managed to turn a nearly half-millennia-old business entirely upside down in a matter of months by creating an easy, transparent, and truly customer-centric experience. The customer can order a taxi in one click, gets status updates on their driver’s location, choose to charge their credit card if they don’t have cash, and can easily rate their driver afterwards using the app.
“This revolution in customer experience hasn’t just resulted in renewed convenience for customers — but it’s proven to be a successful business model. Uber, for example, has gone from solely operating in San Francisco to being one of the world’s fastest growing businesses. You can now “uber” in 35 countries.” Michelle de Haaff states for Medallia.
So, think about what really matters to your customers – if you were to start from scratch based on what your customers want, what would that look like?
3. Focus on personalisation.
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate,” Tom Goodwin, SVP of Strategy and Innovation at Havas Media, wrote in an article on TechCrunch.
Success is not just about a strong inventory anymore. How did they do that? Their extreme personal approach helped them to identify consumers’ needs that had not yet been fulfilled by other companies.
With a slogan “Don’t go there. Live there”, Airbnb aspires people to experience new places just like the locals do – a community-driven marketplace with a mission to unite and connect people from all around the world.
Airbnb is looking to start owning more of its users’ “end-to-end travel experience” by placing a bigger focus on its customers leisure during their stay. The new initiative ‘Airbnb Trips’ lets people offer services such as trips or excursions – meaning a completely tailored and personal experience, driven by the customer, each time they use the site.
4. Encourage sharing.
Transparency builds trust. Airbnb’s business model is built purely on the trust and faith between Hosts and Guests. Guests can rate and review without fear. Hosts can review back. Airbnb’s review system is trustworthy, and all the reviews are genuine and the best way for others to find out whether a room/house is good or bad.
And the Airbnb community just got stronger with the introduction of a new feature “Airbnb stories” which shares articles and videos featuring both host and guest experiences.
Make sure you provide an easy, open and safe way for customers to communicate with you, feedback, and most importantly be responsive to what they say. By making it easy for customers to review, feedback and share their memories of doing business with you, your customers will in turn play a part in building your brand.
To explore ways to improve your P&L through phenomenal customer service, why not download our guide The Top 6 communication changes Managing Directors can make to improve their P&L.